Four-stars in the NFL Draft
Williams was the No. 53 recruit nationally, the No. 5 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 9 recruit in Florida in the Class of 2012. Williams committed to USC on National Signing Day, along with fellow Floridian Nelson Agholor. Leading up to the draft, many experts had Williams labeled as the second-best player after Jameis Winston. So while the defensive line was definitely not a priority for the Jets in this draft, this opportunity was too good to pass up.
Farrell's Take: The best defensive line for the Jets since the Sack Exchange? Could be. Williams always had great potential coming out of high school, but he emerged even more than expected and his stamina on a depleted defensive line was impressive. When Williams wasn't in the game, USC was in trouble. The Jets won't lean on him the same way. New York could have addressed many other more pressing needs, but this speaks to Williams' potential NFL impact.
Miami (Fla.) Norland, 2012, Miami
Flowers was ranked as the No. 205 overall recruit nationally, the No. 20 offensive tackle nationally and the No. 33 recruit in Florida in the Class of 2012. He grew up mainly playing basketball, before making the transition to football at the later stages of high school. Offensive line was a priority for the Giants and after Brandon Scherff was drafted by the Redskins, Flowers became their priority.
Farrell's Take: Flowers was new to football even late in his high school years, but his size, power and potential made him a four-star. However, he emerged even more dominant than expected and he's perfect for the Giants and Tom Coughlin, who loves his linemen mean and nasty. His draft position speaks to the need in the NFL for offensive tackles to offset the freakish emergence of defensive ends in the 280-pound range.
Tarboro, NC, 2012, Georgia
Gurley was ranked as the No. 42 overall recruit nationally, the No. 5 running back nationally and the No. 3 recruit in North Carolina in the Class 2012. Gurley impressed NFL scouts immediately upon his arrival at Georgia, but his torn ACL last fall definitely caused some doubts. St. Louis decided that the positives outweighed the negatives, so now we will all have to wait and see if he can regain his pre-injury form.
Farrell's Take: He should have been a five-star. I kick myself and said so even before he emerged as a freshman star. While everyone else had fellow North Carolina running back Keith Marshall, also a Georgia signee, as the man, I fell in love with Gurley's size and speed at the Shrine Bowl. Had he played in one of the two major all-star games, he would have been a five-star and I'd be bragging right now. He's a home run for the Rams and could be the best player in this draft.
Auburn, Wash., 2011, Washington
Shelton was ranked as the No. 120 overall recruit in the country, the No. 10 defensive tackle nationally and the No. 3 recruit to come out of Washington in the Class of 2011. For Shelton, recruiting came down to Washington and UCLA, with the local Huskies winning out. He was considered the top pure interior defensive lineman in the draft and at 6-foot-2 and 340 pounds, he should help the Browns' troubling run defense.
Farrell's Take: A great kid, a great work ethic and a player who just got better and better in college. Now he's going to be a defensive stalwart for the Browns. Lack of competition was an issue in high school and this proves you can't measure heart. No. 120 isn't shabby at all, but Shelton was not to be denied and that will continue in the NFL.
Kenosha (Wisc.) Bradford, 2011, Wisconsin
Gordon was ranked as the No. 24 running back nationally and the No. 2 recruit in Wisconsin in the Class of 2011. Gordon tore apart college defenses during his career and now the Chargers hope he can do the same, after trading up to draft him. With lingering questions about the San Diego running game, Gordon will be expected to produce immediately.
Farrell's Take: Gordon was a big back who was famously advised in a scouting report to move positions to linebacker by a former analyst. That was the culture of the running back position back in 2011 before guys like Gordon, Gurley, Derrick Henry and others emerged as bigger, taller backs. Nowadays, its commonplace for backs to be 6-foot-1 or taller and we have learned much from players like Gordon. Is there too much mileage on these wheels like Trent Richardson? Time will tell, but Gordon appears to love football a whole lot more and heads into a nice situation with the Chargers.
Elk Grove (Cali.) Pleasant Grove, 2012, Oregon
Armstead was ranked the No. 61 overall recruit nationally, the No. 6 strongside defensive end nationally and the No. 10 recruit in California in the Class of 2012. There were some question marks surrounding Armstead coming into the draft, but San Francisco hopes that he can be a big part of their rebuilding process. With new head coach Jim Tomsula, specializing on the defensive line, Armstead will be in the proper atmosphere to prosper.
Farrell's Take: Had Armstead, at 6-foot-8, not insisted on being a defensive lineman, he would have been a five-star offensive tackle if he embraced that role. He was that great of an athlete. But without a defender's mentality and playing too high, he was still ranked high because even if he busted as a defensive lineman, he would emerge on offense, giving him a bit of a "can't-miss" label. However, the 49ers might have reached a bit here.
Allen, Tex., 2010, Texas A&M
Ogbuehi was the No. 82 overall recruit nationally, the No. 13 offensive tackle nationally and the No. 11 recruit in Texas in the Class of 2010. Ogbuehi was poised to be a top 10 selection in this draft, until a torn ACL during Texas A&M's bowl game against West Virginia detoured those expectations. With the injury, it's doubtful that he will be rushed, but if he regains his pre-injury form, this could be a very good pick for the Bengals.
Farrell's Take: Perhaps another reach? Ogbuehi is an elite athlete for an offensive tackle and shows off those basketball feet of his like he did in high school. A raw prospect, he was a very good run-blocker in high school with the footwork to develop into an elite pass protector. Athleticism is not the issue here and never has been. He's always had first-round potential with that top 100 ranking.
Owings Mills, Md., 2011, Penn State
Smith was the No. 104 overall recruit nationally, the No. 9 offensive tackle nationally and the No. 2 recruit in Maryland in the Class of 2011. Smith impressed scouts during the NFL Combine with his athleticism, while his ability to play either tackle or guard was also seen as a positive. And now with Winston taking over at quarterback, protecting him was a huge priority for Tampa in the ensuing rounds.
Farrell's Take: Smith showed versatility in high school, especially at camps where he showed he could play tackle or guard with equal ability. A very good athlete, he got more athletic and nimble in college, not easy for linemen adding size and strength. He was a great leader as well out of high school and showed that in college, so his maturity is key especially with Winston perhaps needing help with the franchise-player role. Smith could easily be a calming influence in the huddle in a few years.
Olive Branch, Miss., 2011, LSU
Collins was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2011. He was the No. 249 overall recruit nationally, the No. 22 cornerback nationally and the No. 7 recruit in Mississippi. New head coach Dan Quinn has grown his reputation in the NFL through defense. So it should come as no surprise that the Falcons drafted Vic Beasley and Collins with their first two picks. Collins provides exceptional speed and length, but lacks experience with only 10 college starts. It may take him a bit of time to get accustomed to the NFL, but he is the type of player that fits Quinn's defensive scheme.
Farrell's Take: Super fast and athletic with great size, Collins was listed as a cornerback out of high school, but if he ended up at safety, it wouldn't have been a surprise. That versatility is important in the NFL and overcomes his lack of experience a bit. Collins is still raw with his technique. The Falcons need to be more physical and Collins fights for the ball.
Oxon Hill (Md.) Potomac, 2012, Florida State
Darby was the No. 68 overall recruit nationally, the No. 2 cornerback nationally and the No. 2 recruit in Maryland in the Class of 2012. Coach Rex Ryan loves talented cornerbacks and he hopes Darby will fit that profile. Speed is the name of the game for Darby, while there were some questions surrounding his ball skills leading up to the draft. The potential is there, but how long will it take to be realized?
Farrell's Take: Darby was essentially a running back learning the cornerback position coming out of high school with blazing speed and improving technique. He had five-star potential, but just didn't have enough cornerback play to prove it to us (Joe Haden can relate). Perhaps he'll emerge as the next Haden in the NFL. He's going into a good system with a coach who can develop defensive backs.
Towanda (Kan.) Circle, 2011, Oklahoma
Phillips was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2011. He was the No. 50 overall recruit nationally, the No. 4 defensive tackle nationally and the No. 1 recruit in Kansas. Phillips is mountain of a man, who should further solidify an impressive Miami defensive line. There were questions leading into the draft about his heart and desire, which should be an issue that will be tended to by the Dolphins' veterans.
Farrell's Take: Phllips was huge and had amazing potential out of high school, but he wasn't a very physical kid and he often seemed bored with the lack of competition in Kansas, taking plays off. But you can't teach 6-foot-6, 290 with the athleticism of a tight end and that's what the Dolphins are getting. He can shoot the gap and get after the passer as well as run things down the line. If he learns to have an NFL motor, he could be a home run.
Yuma (Ari.) Arizona Western C.C., 2013, Nebraska
Gregory was originally a three-star prospect in the Class of 2011, who signed with Purdue, before he spent two years at Arizona Western C.C. He signed with Nebraska in 2013 as the No. 11 overall JUCO recruit nationally. Talent and production were never the issue with Gregory, who many believe may have been the top pure pass rusher in this draft. However, the numerous off-the-field issues threw up red flags all over the NFL. Dallas is taking somewhat of a gamble here, but it is a gamble that can pay off handsomely as long as Gregory stays on the right path.
Farrell's Take: Gregory is a guy who got so much better in JUCO it wasn't funny and nearly cracked the national top 10 that year and has easily outplayed the rest. The Cowboys aren't afraid to go on some questionable character, high-impact guys (Greg Hardy, Dez Bryant) if they have a need to fill. If Gregory can keep it together off the field, he will be a star on it.
Bamberg (SC) Bamberg-Ehrhardt, 2010, South Carolina
Cann was the No. 182 overall recruit nationally, the No. 2 ranked center nationally and the No. 9 recruit in South Carolina in the Class of 2010. Cann was the third pick in this draft for the Jaguars, and the third SEC player they selected after Dante Fowler Jr. and T.J. Yeldon. He is also the second guard they have selected in two years, after drafting Brandon Linder in the third round last year. Look for Cann to get a legitimate opportunity to start from day one in Jacksonville, opposite of Linder.
Farrell's Take: Cann was a dominant run-blocker out of high school and as an interior pass-blocker, he was exceptional as well. It was simply his overall footwork and ability to pull that was in question. But he has overcome those issues with ease and it's obvious we didn't punish him that much for it with his Rivals250 status. Cann can be a road-grader in the NFL.
Ocala (Fla.) Vanguard, 2012, Florida State
Williams was the No. 118 overall recruit nationally, the No. 9 safety nationally and the No. 23 recruit in Florida. Williams is talented and versatile enough to play cornerback or safety at the next level, but he will begin his NFL career at corner. He brings a certain level of swagger to the position that most coaches like, and is not afraid to be left alone on an island. Williams is another player who has dealt with a few off-the-field issues, so it might be interesting to see how he does in the New Orleans environment.
Farrell's Take: Just outside the top 100 in 2012, Williams was projected as a safety that could also play cornerback and those guys have thrived at FSU and are becoming more and more important in the NFL. The Saints defense is a mess, so he can make an impact early and will upgrade the athleticism. He just needs to stay out of trouble off the field, something I seem to be saying more and more each year.
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National Recruiting Director